Places to Shoot

San Diego North Harbor Drive

Take the short walk north along North Harbor Drive from Tuna Harbor Park to the San Diego Maritime Museum and experience the many photo opportunities along the bayside.

Location Summary

A popular tourist location, very busy in summer. Types of subject include aircraft carrier, harbor views, sailing ships, submarines, people, public art, pedicabs, street performers, street vendors, sunsets, reflections, cityscapes.

Advantages: Rich number of photographic subjects in a relatively compact area and worth repeat visits.

Disadvantages: At busy times it can be difficult to frame a shot that doesn't include tourists.


Tuna HarborTuna harbor park

Tuna Harbor Park is mostly a parking lot used by patrons of the Fish Market restaurant and is regulated by two-hour parking meters. From here there is a good view of the old tuna boat harbor where commercial fishing boats still moor. This harbor is good to photograph at night as the boats and city lights form reflections in its calm water.

midwayLarger than life statue

From the north side of Tuna Harbor park there is a good view of the whole port side of the Midway aircraft carrier museum. You will also find a giant statue based on the famous photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt that portrays an American sailor kissing a young woman in a white dress on V-J Day 1945.

Bob Hope Memorial

The nearby Bob Hope Memorial is interesting in that it includes lifesize statues depicting members of the military in various poses as they watch Bob Hope performing. Real life people mingling among the audience members can create some fun photo opportunities.




The Midway is a good place to get pictures of a real aircraft carrier, which is now a museum. Best time to visit the Midway is on weekdays in the winter when the visitor numbers are much reduced. There is a very nice view from the end of the deck looking back to the city, which really makes you aware of just how big this ship is. The decks are lined with various miltary aircraft and helicopters.

Urban trees

Walking north along North Harbor drive, you pass a number of navy buildings. At this point you'll begin to see the San Diego Urban Tree public art exhibit. These 30 individual sculptures are placed all along the North Embarcadero. Many are kinetic and move with the wind, while others are quite funny. One contains silver balls that you can photograph with a zoom lens and get a fisheye view of yourself and the whole harbor.

Ferry and harbor tours

From close to where Broadway joins North Harbor Drive, you can take a ferry to Coronado across the bay (they run on the hour to Coronado and on the half-hour for the return.) There are also two harbor tour companies to choose from that run one-hour and two-hour tours of the bay. The harbor tour is a good way to get photographs of the Star of India from the water as well as many of the navy ships. Uusally, you will have to take the two-hour tour to see many navy ships.

Cruise ships

The new cruise ship terminal is currently undergoing construction. You will often find at least one cruise ship moored next to the current terminal and you can get some nice photos of them as they depart the harbor around sunset.

Maritime museum

The San Diego Maritime Museum is the home of the Star of India. You may be lucky enough to arrive at a time that museum staff are in the rigging, which makes for a good photo. At times the museum runs special events on board the Star of India and unfortunately at such times you may find the ship is hung with advertising banners, which ruins any photo you might take from the dockside.

Sea battles

The Russian submarine is also worth a visit and the Berkley contains many interesting exhibits. Throughout the summer the museum runs mock sea battles when, for a fee, you can take a harbor trip on one of the sailing ships. At other times, the museum runs harbor trips on their vintage pilot vessel.